Oftentimes it is difficult to pinpoint
where something originates, but commonly the birth of ghouls occurred in
Arabic speaking countries. There is not a country today that does
not have its own
history of ghouls. India, China, Arabia, Germany, France, and Mongolia are just a few countries that have an early history of ghouls.
What is a ghoul? Well, today's
definition is someone who kills without thought, mutilates the corpse,
and perhaps dines on it either by drinking the blood or eating the flesh.
Today's definition is
based on encounters of the past. Ghouls are flesh eaters. While they are more frequently associated with corpses, they are known to feed on human children, infants, and occasionally weak and sickened adults. Ghouls are rumored to live near graveyards and in desolate places where they can safely feed on the freshly deceased and for attacking and feasting on a tired unsuspecting traveler.
Some believe ghouls are reanimated corpses possessed by evil spirits that have very little control over the body thus the staggering and lurching walk. Many have linked ghouls with vampires. As with vampires, a person can become a ghoul by the quality of life he or she lived. Ghouls are also reportedly failed vampires - this means that they did not fully develop into a vampire at the time of their death.
There are many similarities between
ghouls and vampires. Like vampires, ghouls are nocturnal creatures,
repelled by sunlight, and both can feast on the living. However,
unlike vampires, ghouls are driven by their intense hunger, they eat flesh
and not solely blood, and finally, they are not in control of their bodies.
Any intelligence that was once present in their life is no longer present
and they can only communicate with grunts or hisses.
Ghouls are commonly described as having long arms, sinewy legs, gaunt faces, large and sometimes bulging eyes, razor sharp teeth, hands that are claw-like, and thick fibrous blue-gray skin. Their claws are extremely sharp and are used to dig in the dirt and to rip apart flesh.
It is reported that China has the most malevolent of ghouls. They are condemned to be a disembodied spirit because of their evil earthly life. They can take on a visible form and when they do, they are seen as tall, dark, with huge ears, large tongue and tusk like teeth. Like their counterparts in other countries, they feed on corpses and the living flesh of those weaker or unsuspecting. They are credited with causing minor diseases.
In Paris in 1849 Sergeant Francoise
Bertrand was executed for opening graves and partaking of their flesh.
While many label him a vampire, his behavior is closer to that of a ghoul.
A generation later in 1886, Henri Blot was found to have committed the
same type of crimes.
The wilderness of Afghanistan and Iran
bring us stories of the monstrous ghoul, Ghul-I Beaban.
Ghouls are not in control of their bodies, they experience no pain, no aging, do not require air to breathe and have regenerative powers which makes them difficult to kill. To destroy a ghoul one must surprise them or overwhelm them in sheer number as they will fight if forced to with speed and agility coupled with fierceness. While it is difficult to kill a ghoul, it is possible. One must burn,
decapitate, pour concentrated acid or electrocute them.
Is it possible that the corpses that
were removed from their graves and eaten actually disturbed by hungry animals?
This is a possibility but we cannot credit animals with every ghoul activity.
Take a minute and think about the medical profession of the 1800's and earlier. Doctors were present but their expertise in recognizing ailments and even death was not 100%. Comas and some diseases will slow the breathing and heart rate to almost nothing. Most graveyards were in desolate areas where there were no lights and no modern conveniences that would tell them that the corpse in question might still be alive. What would you do, if you awoke in a dirt grave, had to dig your way out after waking from a coma or "dead" sleep to discover that maybe you're really dead. The traumatic shock of finding yourself in a grave would be enough to disorient anyone and then to find your way home only to have your family and friends scream in fear at the mere sight of you. The thought of eating dead flesh might not be as horrifying as one would have thought.
So it is possible that the above two
are possible scenarios for creating ghouls. Then there is the thought
that if one were evil in life, what happens with the soul or evilness of
the living when death
occurs? It is a common belief that the soul of a good person lives on in heaven or stays around to protect their loved ones. Is it possible that evil can be so strong to reanimate a corpse and
continue to spread evil? Or is it possible that there are so many people such as Sergeant Bertrand, Henri Blot and modern day "flesh eating" ghouls who have simply acquired the taste for flesh?
While the ghouls we hear about most often are modern day flesh eaters in well-populated places, there is still a vast world of desolate places with unsuspecting people who are in jeopardy of continuing past beliefs.
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